Just Like Everyone Else

I Samuel 8:7 “And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.”

I Samuel 8:19-22 “Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us; That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles. And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he rehearsed them in the ears of the LORD. And the LORD said to Samuel, Hearken unto their voice, and make them a king. And Samuel said unto the men of Israel, Go ye every man unto his city.”

Psalm 33:12 “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and he people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.”

Israel demanded for a king to rule over them, centralizing authority in an overbearing governmental structure. They ignored the warnings from the Lord about their licentiousness and the erosion of their liberties. Though God had spoken to Samuel to warn the people against following such a path, they refused to listen to the Lord. Instead, they wanted to be like everyone else and structure their society accordingly. They clamored to be like all the other nations that encircled the planet, unappreciative of what they had been uniquely given and unaware of the dangers of being left to their own devices. They had recklessly neglected the important truth and powerful reminder that “blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD!”

In American society today, there are plenty of forces who demand to be ruled by a centralized authority from an overbearing governmental structure. We ignore the warnings of the Lord about our licentiousness and the erosion of our liberties. We want to be like everyone else and structure our society accordingly. We clamor to be like all the other nations that encircle the planet, unappreciative of what we have been uniquely given and unaware of the dangers of being left to our own devices. We recklessly neglect the important truth and powerful reminder that “blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD!”

PLEASE PRAY FOR AMERICAN CHRISTIANS TO HEARKEN UNTO THE VOICE OF THE LORD IN OUR SOCIETY THAT IS CLAMORING TO BE JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE. While they may ignore and reject our calls, they are actually rejecting the Lord Himself who continues to offer special blessings to those who acknowledge Him.

Diverging From the Divine

Galatians 5:1 “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”

Romans 13:1 “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.”

Psalm 33:12 “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.”

American Historian Gordon S. Wood stated the following powerful truth about the core of our great nation:

“The Revolution is the most important event in our history. It not only created the United States, but it infused into our culture the noblest ideals and highest aspirations, our beliefs in liberty, equality, and the happiness of ordinary people. Since there is no American ethnicity, these ideals and values are the only thing holding us together as a nation.”

Governor John Winthrop led the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the Seventeenth Century. In 1630, he wrote the following:

“For we must consider that we shall be as a City upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause him to withdraw his present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword throughout the world.”

Our nation was designed to be a shining city on a hill. It was created to be the model for all of humanity. Yet, it could never hope to survive if it diverged from the Divine.

Our citizenry is gloriously diverse. Yet, the foundational ideals that form our common denominator are expected to be the glue that bonds us together: E pluribus unum – out of many, one. A firm belief in the Creator who formed those ideals, and who has endowed us with those unalienable rights, is always necessary and must never be absent.

PLEASE PRAY FOR AMERICAN CHRISTIANS TO REMIND OUR FELLOW CITIZENS OF OUR BASIS FOR LIFE, LIBERTY AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS. We will become a byword through the world – a cautionary tale – if we continue to diverge from the Divine.

We Need His Assistance!

Isaiah 59:10 “We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes; we stumble at noonday as in the night; we are in desolate places as dead men.”

Job 12:25 “They grope in the dark without light, and he maketh them to stagger like a drunken man.”

Psalm 127:1 “Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it; except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.”

In late June of 1787, the members of the Constitutional Convention were at a dangerous standstill that could have derailed our glorious experiment in liberty before it even started. The main point of contention was between the small and the large states, with the former seeking equal representation in our national legislative body and with the latter seeking population-based representation. Arguments were flying and the deliberative body was stagnating. Then on June 28th, elder stateman Benjamin Franklin rose to speak. He wisely observed:

“In this situation of this assembly, groping, as it were, in the dark to find political truth and scarce able to distinguish it when presented to us, how has it happened, sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of Lights to illuminate our understandings?”

He then reminded the Constitutional Convention of this important precedent:

“In the beginning of the contest with Great Britain, when we were sensible of the danger we had daily prayer in this room for the divine protection. Our prayers, sir, were heard and they were graciously answered. And have we now forgotten that powerful Friend? Or do we imagine that we no longer need His assistance.”

He then provided a powerful proposal:

“I therefore beg leave to move that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven and its blessings on our deliberations be held in this assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the clergy of this city be requested to officiate in that service.”

His advice and the powerful practice of prayer helped break an immovable logjam in our progress towards a government under the Constitution.

Today, we are groping in the dark to find political truth, and are incapable of distinguishing it when presented to us.  We have neglected to humbly apply to the Father of Lights to illuminate our understandings. We have forgotten the powerful precedent of daily prayer for divine protection, which can be graciously answered by our powerful Friend. We foolishly imagine that we no longer need His assistance.

PLEASE BEG FOR OUR NATION TO RETURN TO A CULTURE OF PRAYER TO IMPLORE THE ASSISTANCE OF HEAVEN IN OUR NATIONAL AND PERSONAL DELIBERATIONS. We desperately need His assistance!

Flipped in the Right Direction

Acts 17:5-8 “But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus. And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when there heard these things.”

A few weeks ago, my son got stuck on a roller coaster … upside down … for 45 minutes! It was quick a harrowing experience for him and his fellow riders, especially because the theme park failed to communicate with them throughout the entire event. It was confusing and disorienting. Then, the coaster started again without warning as the young people scrambled to make sure that they were fully strapped in. Fortunately, he ended up safely on the ground right side up, finally flipped in the right direction.

The doubters in the Book of Acts bemoaned the activities and the influences of the apostles and early disciples. These agitators had stirred the city into an uproar, troubling the people and the rulers of the city. They angrily stated that the faithful had “turned the world upside down.” They were probably right!

Yet, there is an important element of such a situation to consider. When you are already upside down, turning you upside down again actually returns you to being right side up. It flips things in the right direction.

We live in a world that is already upside down. It is confused and disoriented. Based on its errant orientation, it is time to turn it upside down again. We need Christians to shake things up and flip things in the right direction.

PLEASE PRAY THAT AMERICAN CHRISTIANS WOULD STRIVE TO TURN OUR SOCIETY UPSIDE DOWN. Turning an upside down world upside down will get us back to where we belong – safely on the ground right side up and flipped in the right direction.

Praying, Singing, and Praising

Acts 16:22-24 “And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.”

Acts 16:25 “And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.”

Acts 16:32-34 “And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believed in God with all his house.”

Something caught my attention for the first time after recently reading through this passage in Acts. Previously I had noticed that Paul and Silas had a praise-filled demeanor while in prison, and that such an expression of their faith directly related to their ability to represent the Lord well and successfully witness to the jailor and his family. Yet, there was something additionally important in this context that I had previously missed.

Before being arrested, Paul and Silas had been beaten. Once released, the jailor washed the stripes on their backs, indicating that these wounds were fresh and raw. Thus, while they sang praises to the Lord, they had open wounds that would have been stinging with pain.

Not only was their demeanor praise-filled while they were in prison, but it was praise-filled in the midst of the pain and discomfort of stripes that riddled their back and caused them to be racked with pain.

It easy for American Christians to bemoan the tough situations we face in a society that is quickly diverging from the Lord. We face reputational discomfort as we stand for our faith and speak out against the sin that is all around us. Yet, very few of us are imprisoned for our testimonies, and it is highly unlikely that if we are, we do so with backs stinging and oozing with lash-induced stripes. How is our demeanor, then, with such relatively minor discomfort?

PLEASE PRAY FOR AMERICAN CHRISTIANS TO LIVE PRAISE-FILLED LIVES IN ORDER TO ATTRACT PEOPLE TO OUR PRAISE-WORTHY GOD. The multitude that could rise up against us at any moment needs to hear about the reason for our praying, singing and praising.

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